How Do You Know When to Recognize or Reward Someone?

The question of when to recognize a person, or whether what they have done merits being rewarded, is a common issue especially for managers.

I believe you must start with defining what you mean by recognition and what rewards are first. Once there is agreement throughout the organization on these two definitions, you will be in much better shape to guide and prescribe when to use each of them appropriately.

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Get Solid Data Fluency for Strong Recognition Programs

Not sure how you did with learning a foreign language at high school, if you needed to do that. When I was trying to learn French growing up in England, it was a matter of rote grammar drills, writing out the different verb tenses, and very little conversational practice.

I cannot speak French today so can never claim to be fluent.

I also spent two years in my early twenties living in Belgium and gained some Flemish language skills. However, upon returning to Canada and many years absent with speaking Flemish, I have found out that if you don’t use a language, you lose it.

That’s why being fluent with the data gleaned from your recognition programs is such a necessary skill for you as a recognition manager or program administrator. If you don’t use it you’ll lose it.

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How Adding Time and Effort Actually Enhances Your Rewards

I have always been a big advocate of the fact that it’s the quality of your recognition that makes it a big deal.

Time and time again, I have witnessed how when you put more of a personal touch into the recognition and rewards you give, the more meaningful and effective the effect will be on the recipient and on their performance. 

I have summed this principle up before by saying, when you give people recognition you don’t have to give them a reward; when you give people a reward, you must always accompany it with recognition.

Now I have a social science experiment to share with you that validates this principle.

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What Happens When People Are Not Recognized?

In my training sessions I ask managers in attendance different questions to help them get grounded about employee recognition. I also want to discern how aware they are of the impact a lack of recognition has on their employees.

What I can assure you is, a large majority of managers already know that unrecognized employees are at risk.

The most common factor identified is that unrecognized employees will lack motivation, are demotivated, or have no motivation at all. This leads to underperformance or low performance. 

Most managers realize that when employees are not appreciated it will frustrate them, they become unhappy, and could well be looking for another job so are at risk of leaving the company.

In fact, research by Dr. Jean-Pierre Brun at the Université Laval in Quebec City, found that the absence of employee recognition is the second leading cause of workplace burnout and stress, right after workload.

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What Makes Recognition Different From Appreciation?

A subscriber of our Authentic Recognition blog suggested I should write about the difference between recognition (more related to work) versus appreciation (more related to the person).

I asked them why this topic was important right now. It seems their organization uses the Gallup Organization’s Q12 engagement survey every two years. In the past year they focused on the recognition specific question/statement #4, “In the last seven days, I have received recognition or praise for doing good work”. 

Her research, like many of us have found, led her to see that “recognition in the workplace” has so many meanings.

She wisely observes that “people fundamentally want to be ‘understood and cared for’ or ‘appreciated’ and would prefer that over ‘recognition’”

She asked for my thoughts on the differences between recognition and appreciation.  Apparently, her organization will likely continue with using recognition. However, she wonders if more time should be spent on appreciation instead of recognition in order to improve the Gallup survey scores.

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How To Increase Meaningfulness Through Your Recognition Programs

Academic research has shown that managers are a contributing a factor to your employee’s perception of experiencing meaningfulness at work.

Researchers Francesco Montani and Jean-SébastienBoudrias reported that when managers take their role seriously, and serve and act as representatives of the organizations they work for, they provide them with salient social cues to their employees. These cues give employees a sense of meaningfulness in their own job. A manager’s act of genuinely recognizing their employees contributes to employee meaningfulness with their work.

So how can you use your recognition programs to create this greater job meaningfulness for employees? (more…)

What Happens When You Recognize A Poor Team Player

Someone brought up a topic I have heard many times before in a presentation I gave this week.

How do you handle recognizing team members when there is a “rotten apple” of a team member on the team? You know what they’re talking about. They’re referring to the poor performer who is not pulling their weight on the team. Yet, they get included in the positive acknowledgments when the project is done.

The bottom-line? They don’t deserve the recognition lauded on the entire team. (more…)

Why Recognizing Employees For Going Above and Beyond Is a Good Thing

When employees go above and beyond in the workplace it stands out.

It’s noticeable. Exceptional. And it should be celebrated.

That is why managers need to understand the importance of recognizing employees for going above and beyond.

Why should you establish an above and beyond category to your existing recognition award programs? What are the benefits of doing so? (more…)

Do You Really Recognize Poor Performing Employees?

Whenever you are dealing with people in the workplace you will always need to address performance on the job.

There are 2 sides of the performance coin. It is either good performance or its poor performance.

With employee recognition, I often get asked questions about recognizing poor performers. Recently, I was asked, “How do you recognize a poor performing employee without encouraging mediocrity?”

You know they have someone in mind when they ask this question. Consider the following questions to help guide you on this subject. (more…)

The Amazing Spillover Effects of Formal Recognition

Over three-quarters of surveyed companies have some form of best-of-the-best or above-and-beyond formal recognition award program going on.

This is great for those employees who seem to excel and shine at everything they do. They end up enjoying the celebratory experience at the annual awards event.

But what about employees who don’t get an award?

Award programs can appear to create an exclusivity that pits one person winning over and above their fellow employees.

So how do peers perceive formal award winners? What are the benefits for companies of doing formal awards when so few employees actually end up receiving them?

I am going to explore this topic through the lens of some recent academic research I discovered this week.

Spoiler alert: The outcome is positive as the title of this post implies.

Let’s dig in! (more…)